Hickory Nut Gap turkeys

WNC’s independen­t poultry farmers persevere through processing challenges

Three years out from the closure of the state’s only USDA-inspected plant for independent farmers, more than 200 North Carolina farms are processing their own poultry. But due to the extra labor and time requirements, many producers statewide are still putting less pastured poultry on the market now than they were in 2017.

Musician April Bennett gets creative in finding her ‘new normal’ 

Instead of a packed house, musician April Bennett and local hip-hop band Lyric played to a nearly empty space at the Orange Peel for the May 15 livestream of Downtown After 5. “It was definitely weird playing in one of the biggest rooms in the city with no people in it except for the staff who were recording it,” she remarks with a laugh. “But I was really glad for that [opportunity]. It was definitely a much-needed morale boost during these crazy, crazy times.”

Pandemic left graduating high school seniors no time to say goodbye

Eligh Ros, a dual-enrollment 12th grader at Martin L. Nesbitt Jr. Discovery Academy, is on track to graduate as part of the class of 2020 with both a high school diploma and some college credit from A-B Tech. Early this spring, he was busy with classes and multiple club activities, his sights set on studying computer science or engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York in the fall, when he suddenly found his life upended by Gov. Roy Cooper’s March 14 executive order to close schools.

Michael Stratton at Fairview Road Resilience Garden

Oakley residents plant seeds of community resilience

Since late March, Michael Stratton, his wife, Amanda, and a small, hardworking steering committee have managed to transform a 4,000-square-foot grassy field near Fairview Road into 15 neat garden beds, which in mid-April were already speckled with green sprouts of onions, potatoes, kale, chard and more. The group plans to donate the produce to food pantries and neighbors in need due to COVID-19.

Isa Whitaker

Isa Whitaker builds community resilience through gardening

As coordinator of Bountiful Cities’ Asheville Buncombe Community Garden Network, Whitaker manages communication, educational programming and resources such as free seed and tool libraries for more than two dozen local gardening efforts. And after COVID-19 began impacting life in Western North Carolina, he’s seen an increase in the number of local residents interested in starting new community gardens.